PCC-PCS Technical Academy Wraps Up Successful Academic Year

Farmville Central High School's Luke Vandiford excelled in the HVAC courses he took at Pitt through the PCC-Pitt County Schools Technical Academy. He began participating in the academy at age 16 and went on to earn Dean's List honors from the college and a 2021 PCC Academic Excellence Award. Vandiford used the skills he developed in his HVAC courses to land a part-time job with above-minimum wage pay as a high school senior.

WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College-Pitt County Schools Technical Academy faculty and staff closed out spring semester with an awards ceremony to celebrate their students’ accomplishments during the 2021-22 academic year.

Of the 60 students who participated in the academy, 11 received Student Excellence Awards during the program, after being nominated by their peers and selected by faculty and staff. The ceremony was also an opportunity to applaud 16 participants for making straight A’s in their PCC coursework and to recognize 14 students for passing exams to earn third-party credentials coveted by area employers.

“These students have worked hard — they took at least two college classes, along with two core high school classes each semester,” said PCC-PCS Technical Academy Director Lynn Griffin. “Many of them also had jobs, participated on sports teams at their high schools, and volunteered in the community.”

Griffin said all of the students have bright futures ahead, having acquired skills that can quickly lead to employment in stable careers with above-average starting wages. Some, including 14 who graduate high school this month, are only two or three semesters from earning associate degrees. Others, like Dean’s List student Luke Vandiford, have already begun working part-time in their field of study.

As a senior at Farmville Central High School, Vandiford used the skills he developed through PCC’s Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration program to land a part-time job with Mechanical Systems Solutions. “I have good teachers that make a connection with me to make sure I understand the material,” he said. “I learn something new every day.”

In addition to HVAC, the academy features five other hands-on programs not offered by the students’ high schools: Architectural Technology, Biotechnology, Electrical Systems, Computer Integrated Machining and Industrial Systems.

Along with skills for a trade, students learn how to work with others through their academy participation. PCC Biotechnology instructor Kristen Andrews cited Evelyn Correa, a Student Excellence Award recipient from North Pitt High School, as a good example, saying she is “a wonderful addition” to the biotechnology program who will be successful for years to come.

“Evelyn comes to class prepared and answers questions whenever she is given the opportunity,” Andrews said. “She takes her courses very seriously and studies hard. She also demonstrates good lab skills and works wonderfully, both within a group and independently.”

Dr. Thomas Gould, PCC Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs & Student Services, stressed the importance of PCC’s partnership with Pitt County Schools and said the academy would positively impact the local workforce.

“The success of these technical academy students is a testament to the productive partnership between Pitt Community College and Pitt County Schools,” Gould said. “Our collaborative goal is to educate and train a talented local workforce that will spur economic development in Pitt County and throughout the region.”

After starting as a pilot program with 20 students from two Pitt County high schools during the 2018-19 academic year, the academy expanded the following year to 43 juniors and seniors from all six Pitt County public high schools. The 2020-21 academic year saw participation from 42 students.

Students selected for the academy are bused to and from class on the PCC campus at no charge. The cost of their tuition, fees and books is also covered.

Space is still available for rising juniors to participate in the academy this fall. To apply, students should contact Griffin at (252) 493-7653 or lgriffin@email.pittcc.edu. Additional information is on the PCC Technical Academy Facebook page, and campus tours will be available throughout the summer.